Food thought a very temporal and tangible substance has incredible spiritual implications and is essential to the life of the body, and theretofore the life of the soul within the body. The sense of taste, is therefore an essential ministry we homemakers need to study for use in our home.
Foods served in each home very much reflect the culture and lifestyle of that home. As the post, Ministering Through Physical Senses in the Home describes, there is no right or wrong on the matter, we each will make foods we serve based upon our upbringing, who we married, allergies, time constraints, nutritional needs and eating habits, as well as our level of joy and comfort in cooking.
In biblical times eating was not only treasured during fellowship with others, but various foods and feasts held specific symbolism. Our constant need for physical nourishment is symbolic of our need for constant spiritual nourishment. Taste can open up incredible pathways for our spirits to be nourished.
Food provides opportunities for fellowship and spiritual conversations with our own family as well as with friends and un-churched folks. How often our own family has lingered around a dinner table as we discuss a topic of our faith. Or in small group, food is an avenue that allows us to ponder our faith and lives together as we share a snack together after Bible study. Food slows us down and gives us a reason to linger a moment with others. Even a simple cup of tea is all that is needed to pause in life, to be still, alone or shared with others.
I try to keep a balance of eating habits in our home. Taste has so many intricate affects and meets various needs from celebration, to nutrition, and to prayer. All should be included thoughtfully through the patterns of home-making.
On a daily basis, I serve the best food I can afford that will enrich the bodies of my family. Wholesome food helps us think clearly and have energy to serve others. I find if I am not eating balanced meals and snacks, my mental clarity and physical stamina plummet. I go into more depth about how my faith affects impacts healthy eating habits in the post: Pursuing Health for God’s Glory. Someone once told me that it is those who are sick who eat the healthiest diets. It is because the sick are the ones who are who realize the value nutrients bring their bodies because the sick hunger for healing so their souls can engage in life without the restrictions their body presents. One should not wait until our bodies malfunction before beginning healthy eating practices. Each day is the time to nourish our body, so we can be as physically fit as possible for us. Yes, that level of health will vary from person to person depending on the body God has given us and its age. Regardless, it is our responsibility to maintain properly, just like our car, our house, and our children. We must care for our bodies the best we know how to do. Food should be eaten with others in mind, not for our temporary selfish comfort.
I make it a priority in our home to share the tastes of our home with others. When I share the tastes of our home, I am essentially sharing the goodness God has poured upon us, with others. I LOVE doing that! I like to keep casseroles, bread, and soups in my freezer at all times. It is so easy to grab a few items and deliver them to whomever the Lord lays on my heart at any given moment. If I have nothing adequate prepared, I have a small list of “go to” comfort dishes to take to folks. We once had a sweet neighbor, and I enjoyed setting aside a portion of the food I made to tun over to her. I also love having others in our home to share food around our table and fellowship! My point is that we must find ways we can share the tastes of our home with others. So often we wait too long for opportunistic to pop up instead of making our own opportunities. Sharing food with others can be done on a weekly basis without too much effort. We can run some cookies to our neighbors, take a jar of home-made soup to a sick family we know, invite folks over for a meal, run a surprise dinner over to the single working mom across the street…with food in our hands, we can intrude into others lives with ease. For those who want to learn more about how to minister with food, I do include more practical tips about sharing food in the post: Sharing Meals With Others.
I like to use food as a tool of showing God’s goodness to hurting hearts. Food can provide a level of comfort. Eating food for the comfort it brings is not entirely evil. There are seasons in our lives where we draw comfort from silence, music, a walk in nature, or a cuddle with a furry creature by the fire. God has made an incredible world full of little things that bring us joy. Now, God is certainly the source of eternal, lasting comfort. Truths from Scripture will provide our souls with the kind of comfort that heals our wounds. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” II Corinthians 1:3-4. Food can be an incredible tool that can help us reflect on God, His goodness, and blessing. Sometimes a meal from the past brings comfort as we are reminded of sweet memories and blessings the Lord has given us in the years before. Sometimes a meal taken to a hurting soul provides comfort as that meal is eaten with thoughts of not facing trials alone and God’s sustaining grace through each moment. Food shared with hurting souls can be such a beautiful picture of the table prepared for us by our Loving Shepherd. If I know my husband has had a rough day at work, I will often choose to cook something comforting, a favorite casserole or meat and potatoes dish, I can ease the stress of his day by preparing a meal that will bring rest to his soul. Food, like no other sense, can aid in helping souls see the many blessings in their lives and praise God for His goodness.
Food can serve as a means of celebration. A dear friend of mine once pulled me aside as I struggled over the enormous amounts of sugar being fed to my children during Christmas. She kindly reminded me that throughout the history of Israel, various feasts were encouraged to help the people remember the faithfulness of God. The Passover is one such feast and every item in the Passover meal is symbolic for s And as Christians, we should embrace seasons of feasting with grace, not guilt. Certain foods are customary in our home for specific holidays. As a home-maker, I can use those foods in ways that will help my children remember the holiday and remember the goodness of God as we make and enjoy Christmas cookies, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon rolls. Those are not every-day foods, but ones reserved for a day of worship and joy in our God. It is not enjoyed in vain. Now, there are traditions others in our family hold to certain feasting days, we are not all the same, and we can change some of our traditions into healthier versions if we so desire. Now, feasting does not mean gluttony. I will note here that gluttony and feasting are different. Feasting is a heart enjoying in gratitude for God’s blessing. Gluttony is over-indulging in food with a thankless, mindless greed. Gluttony is always a sin, and has nothing to do with how much a person weighs, but about the greedy heart of the thankless eater.
The absence of food is also important when we homemakers set aside time to fast. I am a firm believer in the art of fasting and prayer. I have seen the Lord work amazing things when I have set aside my physical hungers in my desperation to see the Lord work. My heart in prayer with even more fervency than on a full stomach. As my body feels the pangs of hunger the hunger fills my prayers. For those who have not taken a time to fast, it is well worth the effort. Yes, it takes discipline, but it is amazing to me how the physical cravings can be flipped into spiritual cries from my soul. I have a friend who would set aside Sunday’s to fast and pray. Another who fasts every Wednesday for his children. One day doesn’t make me hungry enough to bring my soul into fervent prayer. I often prefer to do a week to three week increment. It isn’t always going completely without food either, sometimes limiting myself to bone broth or a simple vegetable soup once a day keeps me hungry, but also gives me enough energy to keep up with my children for that time. Recently, Esther has come to mind and her request to Mordecai that he and all Israel fast and pray with her before she went to see the king. “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” Esther 4:16. The people of Nineveh also fasted and prayed fervently as described in Jonah 3:5-8. Desperate people will fast and pray. Are we not desperate? Fasting is not practiced by many Christians. It is almost as though we are awkward even talking about it. Many people don’t even know what it means to fast. Most of us simply don’t make time for it in our lives. We fear the discomfort we will have from fasting more than the spiritual discomfort we experience. Fasting should not be something we are self-conscious about as Christians. It should be a way of life. But as Jesus reminds us, we are not to tote it about pridefully either. It is not a badge of honor, it is a humbling, serious, prayerful experience we should make plans to embrace in our lives.
Regular meal times are invaluable. In our own home, I guard mealtimes. We have a dining room, which I love. That is where we sit down every evening together to eat dinner. I try to keep meals “on the go” to a bare minimum and plan our schedules around dinner-time. It is a time our family can re-group, fellowship with each others, and well…learn how to love others by practicing good manners. Our sit down dinners vary in formality depending upon the meal and time I have in the day to prepare dinner. But we always sit together. My husband’s evening work hours are always different depending upon meetings and sometimes traffic. So, we do have a later dinner hour than most. On rare occasions I will feed the children early, but in general we wait until he is home so we can enjoy dinner together. The family dinner table is not something required in Scripture. It is very much a personal endeavor as a home-maker to connect the lives of everyone inside the home for one short period in the day. It also enables me to make sure balanced eating habits are maintained. I believe it is an important time for my children to share their day with their busy Daddy too. Maintaining dinnertime is a way I have found that, whether they know it or not, ministers to the souls of my husband and children.
I love being able to use tastes to minister to not only my own soul, but everyone I can! Food is truly a versatile toll of ministry like no other. I do believe how I use taste in the home is an evolving process, and will continue to grow and change through the years as I continue to taste the goodness from the table of my heavenly Father!
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Ps. 34:8